Remote Australia and the Voice

Wednesday 3 May, 5:30pm refreshments for a 6:00pm start at the Science Gallery Melbourne Theatre.

For many Australians living in cities and major towns, remote Australia is often out of sight and out of mind. It is revered in art and tourism circles for preserving the “real” Australia, while simultaneously stigmatised in politics and the media for its entrenched social problems. Yet federal mechanisms for consulting with remote Indigenous communities have varied widely over successive governments since the 1970s.

This year’s Voice Referendum offers all Australians a rare opportunity to secure in the Australian Constitution a right for Indigenous people in remote Australia to be heard in the making of laws that impact them directly. The timing of this Referendum is critical as Australian governments have repeatedly failed to Close the Gap within the past two decades, leaving Indigenous poverty, education, health and housing conditions in remote Australia worse than they were 30 years ago. Answers to this problem elude most political commentators. Professor Gumbula will discuss how Indigenous elders in remote Australia nonetheless work tirelessly to provide for their communities and can achieve better outcomes if better heard and resourced.

This event is presented by the University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Knowledge Institute and forms part of the University’s program of work encouraging conversations around the Voice.

The event is FREE and all are welcome.

About Professor Brian Gumbula

Professor Brian Gumbula is a senior Yolŋu elder and ceremonial leader of the Gupapuyŋu clan from Northeast Arnhem Land. He is fully trained in Yolŋu law and responsible for working with other Yolŋu leaders of the most senior rank to keep their law intact and transmit it to future generations. He has a background in Indigenous school education in Northeast Arnhem Land and served as a Constable First Class in the Northern Territory Police Service until 1996. He has since served on boards of the Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation and Yirralka Rangers. He has engaged in many research projects on Yolngu law and culture over the past 30 years and was appointed as an Indigenous Knowledge Institute Fellow at the University of Melbourne in 2022. His current project is co-funded by University Museums & Collections and examines how Yolŋu law is represented in the University’s vintage collections of Yolŋu cultural heritage. He is also undertaking research into native bees and historical Yolŋu trade with Makassar seafarers with colleagues in the Faculties of Science, Fine Arts & Music, and Medicine, Dentistry & Health Sciences.